[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/09/art.rncemail0409.rnc.jpg caption="The RNC sent out a fundraising e-mail Thursday that focuses on the 2010 census and the community organizing group ACORN."]
(CNN) – New Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele is ripping a page from the GOP's 2008 playbook.
In a fundraising e-mail sent to supporters Thursday, Steele looks to link community organizing group ACORN with the 2010 census which the new administration will conduct.
"It seems the Obama Administration has plans to rig the Census results," Steele says in the message.
"President Obama's old friends from ACORN . . . has [sic] been chosen by the Administration as a 'partner' with the Census Bureau to determine population counts in cities around the country."
"ACORN's community organizers are eager to once again take action to aid their old friend in the White House," says Steele. "You can be sure they'll be manipulating population numbers."
In a statement to CNN, Bertha Lewis, ACORN's chief organizer, denies Steele's assertions.
"I am disappointed in Mr. Steele's repetition of lies and distortions about our work for crass fundraising purposes," Lewis says. "ACORN is not getting billions from the federal government. We are not in charge of the Census. Just like the accusations of 'voter fraud,' – charges that were debunked repeatedly – these are imaginary and false. The truth is that ACORN is deeply engaged in ending the foreclosure crisis."
During the 2008 White House race, the GOP repeatedly suggested that ACORN and its employees were involved in voter registration fraud that might benefit Barack Obama, then the Democrat nominee for president. The accusation was subsequently leveled at ACORN by the McCain-Palin campaign, which also suggested ties between Obama, his campaign, and the community organizing group.
Both ACORN and the Obama campaign denied engaging in voter registration fraud.
The 2010 census is shaping up to be a partisan battleground between Obama's administration and Republicans. In part over differences about how the next national head count should be conducted, New Hampshire GOP Sen. Judd Gregg withdrew his name from further consideration to be Obama's Commerce Secretary.
Some congressional Republicans also recently criticized University of Michigan Prof. Robert M. Groves, Obama's pick for census director. Groves worked for the Census Bureau during the last census in 1990, and recommended at that time that the head count be statistically adjusted to compensate for a possible undercount of millions of Americans.